Continuous Glucose Monitoring — The First Four Weeks

Justin Lawler
Jun 29, 2017 · 5 min read
Abbot Labs Freestyle Libre System

I’ve been using the Abbot Labs Continuous Glucose Monitor for the last four weeks, I’ve seen some massive insights into my lifestyle and overall wellness.

How glucose levels throughout the day compared to activity, heart rate. Whether I’m sitting or moving after a meal. How my body reacts to glucose when I’m sleeping, or when I lack sleep.

What it does when I’m stressed was incredible.

But also, how type 2 diabetes could come about, how maybe it could even be detected years before any official diagnosis.

Using the Glucose Monitor

The sensor has a needle that goes under the skin, but I don’t even feel it going on.

Sometimes when I roll over on my arm at night, I might feel it, but in general, I don’t even notice it.

Looking at the Data

The default software you get with the Freestyle is not bad. It shows daily trends, individual day charts,

With this, you get averages over the day. Even an estimated HBA1C value that’s accurate (a recent test had it as 34 / 5.3%).

HBA1C levels above 5.7% are considered high-risk for diabetes — Self Hacked goes into it in great detail here.

I haven’t yet been able to export the data directly from the FreeStyle Libre software. But connecting to the third party app Diasend, I could upload and export as a spreadsheet.

Glucose and Meals

It wasn’t just the obvious hitting my glucose levels hard — high-carb foods. It was rice (brown and white), sweet potatoes, gluten free bread.

Glucose spiking over ten after eating veg and sweet potatoes.

Functional medicine doctor Chris Kresser talks a good deal about insulin insensitivity, and how post-meal levels above 7.8 are getting into dangerous territory.

The other side of glucose going too high was glucose going too low overnight (hypoglycaemia), caused by very low-carb evening meals.

Glucose and Activity

Standing desks also help.

I’m getting some of my worst spikes if I’m sitting down after a high-carb meal.

Glucose and Stress

Comparing to Fitbit Heart Rate data. Glucose spikes about 30 minutes after the spike in heart rate.

Sleep impacting glucose control?

Morning Heart Rate Variability measured in the emFit app has an impact. I’m seeing better blood glucose control on days with higher HRV values.

Glucose Impacting Sleep Quality?

From the emFit, HRV goes down — basically saying I’ve had negative recovery over the night.

Glucose Levels overnight — several dips below 3.
Downward trend in HRV over the night. Heart rate up-and-down over the night also.

Conclusions

But there are also positive signs.

I can see it’s possible to keep blood sugar under control — watching what I eat, sleep well and looking after stress.

Experts in the field say the same thing. Dr. Mark Hyman, a functional medicine doctor, and author talks about insulin sensitivity being reversible.

Diabetes and pre-diabetes ARE reversible by aggressively changing lifestyle, nutritional support, and occasionally medications. — Mark Hyman

Glucose monitors can be a part of that.

I can track how my average glucose and HBA1C levels change over time.

And it holds me accountable. Numbers don’t lie. I can’t fool myself that eating the snacks after lunch is OK.

And I can figure out the small lifestyle adjustments bring the biggest return. What foods are worst for me and what activity works best?

Next Steps

Continuous Glucose Monitor Series

Links

Justin Lawler

Written by

Self-Quantifier, tech-lover and biohacker. Organiser of Dublin Quantified Self. Developer. More at http://justinlawler.net